Monday, October 28, 2013
Elton: 'Modern Pop Singers Lack Humanity'
But in a wide ranging attack, Sir Elton John said today’s ‘processed performers’ such as Britney Spears lack the skill to perform live.
And he dismissed the majority of contemporary pop hits as ‘packaged crap’ - while his songwriting is inspired by the likes of Bach and Beethoven.
The 66-year-old songwriter, made the criticisms at the Royal Academy of Music, where he trained for six years from the age of 11.
Speaking at a private dinner, he cited a lifelong passion for classical music which in turn inspired his own music.
He said; ‘If you love Bach, Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven, you can’t help but be influenced. They wrote the greatest melodies and the most beautiful things of all time.’
He complained that modern music stars lack the ‘soul and humanity’ of singers such as Judy Garland and Nina Simone.
Sir Elton, said: ‘Everything’s too flawless now. Everything’s autotuned, there’s no trace of humanity.
‘If you go and see a Britney Spears concert, you might as well stay at home and watch the video.’
He said that in the past most singers could sing live, but ‘a lot of them can’t now - it’s a shocker.’
John, whose biggest hits include Candle in the Wind and Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, believes that technology has created a generation of under-qualified stars.
‘Anyone can make a record in their living room or their bedroom, and it can be a very good record, but they don’t have the skill to go and play it live, to hone skills,’ he said.
‘It started with MTV, that’s when music started getting processed. You turn on Radio 1 and it’s mostly garbage. David Bowie made a great recent record; I don’t think Radio 1 played that. If it’s good music, play it. They shouldn’t be playing the packaged crap that they are now.’
His criticisms were made at a function at the Royal Academy of Music, attended by leading figures like impresario Sir Cameron Mackintosh and benefactor Dame Vivien Duffield.
They gathered to inaugurate a magnificent £1.2m organ for the Academy’s concert-hall, made possible by Sir Elton’s fund-raising concerts.
He was aged 11 when he enrolled at the Academy as a classical music scholar, where he spent six years training.
He argued that audiences want performances with ‘human soul’, in which mistakes might happen.
He recalled how at a recent show he had tried out a new song that ‘was so bad that in the end I said, “Stop it, we just can’t play it”.
‘I wasn’t ashamed, because it was a new song, but it makes the audience aware that sometimes some things don’t work.’
He believes part of the problem lies with the ‘ageism’ of BBC radio. ‘You get a rock band like Arcade Fire. I love them so much, but they’re not played on Radio 1 because they’re too old, and they’re not played on Radio 2 because they’re not really Radio 2.
John also criticised disc jockeys, adding: ‘I don’t think they’re really passionate about music . Disc jockeys of yore were passionate about what they played.’
John stressed the importance of radio in reaching audiences, citing the folk singer Laura Marling as the kind of ‘real musician’ Radio 1 should be playing.
It was in 2004 that Sir Elton famously said that singers who mime ‘should be shot’ citing the example of Madonna, whose shows he claimed were heavily lip-synched.
- Daily Mail